SPCA Welfare Officer Says The Wrong Thing

X-ray of cat with five pellet wounds
X-ray of cat with five pellet wounds
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Tell me if you agree with me that SPCA welfare officer Anna Porteous says completely the wrong thing and sends a bad message to cat killers.

The background story is simple but very sad. A 44-year-old man was looking after someone’s cat in his home. The cat damaged the guy’s curtains so he shot the cat with an airgun (pellet gun) five times. The man refused to hand the cat back to the owners until they had paid compensation. The cat survived and was operated on by a vet and appears to have made a full recovery.

The SPCA welfare officer said this about the man who shot the cat:

“There was a delay, and meanwhile the curtain damage continued, so he decided to kill the cat. He reached the end of his tether and that was what he decided to do….We would like to use this case to highlight the important issue of euthanasia. It is not enough for you to ‘try’ to kill an animal – if you are not capable of killing the animal instantly and in a humane manner, then take the animal to the vet….This case being successful in court reinforces this. This man did not intend for the cat to suffer, but through his actions, it did, and to a significant extent.”

What she said more or less backs up what he did except that he did it badly. If he had killed the cat with one shot and the cat had died quickly she would have accepted the behavior of this man. That is how I interpret what she has said. She is endorsing (supporting as acceptable) homemade euthanasia, which is bizarre. No one should be involved in attempting to euthanize their cat at home. Euthanising a cat is very skilled work. In any case, her words also encourage cat owners to kill their cat. Euthanasia is not simple, unqualified killing. It is humanely ending the life of a cat for very good and moral reasons.

P.S. — The story comes from New Zealand. There is a link in the comments section.

P.P.S. The word “euthanasia” has been misused by the SPCA welfare officer. This man was trying to kill the cat; he was not trying to euthanize the cat.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

13 thoughts on “SPCA Welfare Officer Says The Wrong Thing”

  1. I’ve just sent a message to the Tauranga SPCA thanking them for successfully prosecuting the culprit, but raising concerns about the comments made by Anna Porteous. In particular;

    “The vet’s bill was about $300,” says Anna. “However, the cost of having the animal put down by a vet would have been about $50-$60.

    “We would like to use this case to highlight the important issue of euthanasia.”

    I’ve asked them to clarify whether she’s suggesting had he killed the cat with one shot, he wouldn’t have been prosecuted for animal cruelty because the cat didn’t suffer and what legal right does anyone have to euthanise someone else’s pet without their permission or the recommendation of a vet on medical grounds?

    1. Thanks Michele. Amazing of you to go to the trouble to investigate the matter further. What she said seems to be totally out of place. This problem comes up time and time again: whether a person who shoots a cat dead instantly, commits a crime or not because theoretically the cat does not suffer pain. That is the argument but it is false in my view. If a cat is shot buy a gun then there must be a moment when the cat suffers intense pain. Death cannot be instantaneous with the arrival of the bullet. There must be seconds or a fraction of second of intense pain. Therefore it is a crime. In some jurisdictions just killing a cat is a crime unless excepted under special circumstances. It is a question of the local law. Common sense dictates that any decent animal welfare law makes it a crime if Joe Blogs shots a cat.

      1. Michael, that the culprit took pot shots at this poor cat over the course of 5 days is bad enough, but when I read those comments from Anna Porteous I just had to contact the SPCA to voice my concerns. From reading other news sites on-line, we’re not the only people outraged by what she said.

        I haven’t heard anything back from the SPCA, but will post an update on here if I do.

  2. Anna Porteous shouldn’t be a public spokesperson for animal welfare issues.

    Not only does she appear to condone killing cats (so long as they don’t suffer), but she appears to have forgotten that the cat did not even belong to this man. He was meant to be caring for the cat in the absence of the owner.

    What kind of monster deems it necessary to shoot a cat even once for scratching curtains? That he should then demand compensation for his curtains before releasing the injured cat back to his owners, really shows what a nasty individual he must be. I don’t know what the laws are regarding pet ownership in NZ, but if it’s similar to many countries where cats are considered “property” he’s lucky he’s not being sued by the owners for criminal damage. If that were my cat I’d definitely sue him through the small claims court myself.

    1. Yes, Michele, the cat’s “owners” could have sued for compensation in my view. The laws in NZ are similar to those in the UK. I’d expect that their animal welfare laws to be similar too. This is a plain case of animal cruelty and abuse. There are no mitigating circumstances and the SPCA officer is way of beam. She’s talking gobbledygook.

  3. I have always been careful about where my cats stay when I go on holidays, I found the perfect dotty old Lady who decorated the indoor cat pens just like living rooms (complete with wallpaper) and scattered cat toys around, I like to think they enjoyed their holiday too. How on earth did this person leave his/her cat with such a maniac?

  4. I think she unwittingly showed the truer colors of animal shelter directors. They do so much killing, that’s what they think their primary job is, and the adoption process is just a means for the shelter to bring in money. Protecting animals, providing them shelter, making them healthy and adoptable and adopting them successfully whereas the animal’s and it’s new human family’s lives are enriched – are an afterthought. The end to their means. You’re absolutely right again Michael.

    1. You make a very good point, Albert. They get used to killing. They learn to devalue the cat. Their poor attitude leaks out of them unexpectedly like this.

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